ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter is synonymous with breaking news, building himself a large following due to the credibility of his reports, which are largely transactional involving NFL players, coaches, or owners.
On Friday, after the surprising news that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was being charged for solicitation of prostitution at a spa in Florida (which the 77-year-old billionaire denies), Schefter had a bombshell of his own: Kraft wouldn’t be the biggest name to get caught up in the prostitution sting, which involved 10 spas and upwards of 200 people being charged with various crimes, including human trafficking.
“I’m also told that Robert Kraft is not the biggest name involved down there in South Florida, and we will see what police turn up in the report,” Schefter reported on SportsCenter on Friday.
Those rumors, however, haven’t panned out, and prosecutors have since called them false.
Still, news outlets across the country picked up Schefter’s comments Friday, creating a wave of speculation on the air and social media. But as New York Post media critic and former ESPNer Andrew Marchand points out, the network didn’t include Schefter’s bombshell in its own online story, nor did the quick-fingered reporter ever tweet it to his 7.25 million followers.
A source at ESPN told the Inquirer that Schefter’s comments were not added to the news story or shared on Twitter because the information wasn’t being reported through the network’s news desk.
Schefter himself seemed to walk back his comments a bit later in the day Friday during an appearance on WEEI in Boston.
“What I have been told is there are other people involved, there are other names that will come out in this particular investigation … We’re talking about an area of Florida — rich and famous, South Florida, lots of people live down there, lots of people vacationing down there, and we’ll see how this all unfolds in the days and weeks to come,” Schefter said. “Some will just be regular people whose names we don’t know. But there could be other names we do know, and that’s how it was explained to me.”
There was another high-profile person charged in Friday — former Citigroup president and Haverford native John Havens. And earlier in the week, John Childs, the founder of investing firm J.W. Childs, which backs Philly-based motorcycle apparel brand RevZilla, was charged. But their public profiles pale in comparison to Kraft, who owns one of the NFL’s most successful franchises.
On Monday, during a press conference announcing that an arrest warrant had been issued for Kraft on misdemeanor offenses, Palm Beach state’s attorney Dave Aronberg appeared to shut down the idea there was another big name yet to be charged in the sting operation, calling it a false rumor.
"I was asked earlier today about rumors about bigger fish, and I said that ‘that would be news to me,' " Aronberg said. “It’s hard for me to talk about rumors, especially false ones.”
Aronberg’s spokesperson, Mike Edmondson, was a bit more direct, telling Deadspin, “Nobody around here has any idea what [Schefter] is referring to.”
Marchand wasn’t the only reporter to call out Schefter’s report and how it was handled. New York Times sports reporter Kevin Draper wrote on Twitter he couldn’t believe ESPN let "Schefter go to air with such thinly sourced junk.”
“Schefter is one of the best in the NFL news business, and he might even be No. 1,” Marchand wrote. “But if he misspeaks on SportsCenter — which is another possible explanation for what happened Friday — then he and ESPN need to address it quickly to quell his words as they race around the internet."
NBC officially out of the Dan Patrick business
Last year, following the Eagles’ Super Bowl win over the Patriots, NBC announced that Dan Patrick would not be returning as the lead host on its primetime pre-game show Football Night in America. Patrick said it was his decision to walk, telling the New York Post, “I didn’t want to do it and not love doing it."
Now, NBC is getting completely out of the Dan Patrick business.
On Monday, the network announced that as of March 1, it would no longer air a simulcast of Patrick’s syndicated radio show on NBC Sports Network, where it has run since November 2012. Patrick’s show will continue to air on the Audience channel on DirecTV channel.
“We’re grateful to have televised The Dan Patrick Show on NBCSN for six years, and we wanted to retain it; however, we were unable to come to renewal terms," NBC said in a statement. “We’ll always consider Dan and the Danettes members of the NBC Sports family, and wish them ongoing success."
NBC announced Tuesday morning that it was filling Patrick’s three-hour slot on NBCSN with two shows: a rerun of PFT Live with Mike Florio (which airs live from 7 to 9 a.m.) and an hour-long simulcast of Sky Sports News.
NBC’s parent company Comcast acquired Sky TV for $40 billion in October, and last month, NBC Sports and Sky Sports News teamed up on a six-hour Premier League Transfer Deadline Day Special for U.S. viewers.
• WWE’s Monday Night Raw will be making its way to Philadelphia next week at the Wells Fargo Center. During Monday night’s broadcast, color commentator and Pittsburgh native Corey Graves couldn’t help taking a jab at the city over the Bryce Harper sweepstakes.
“Also referred to as the place Bryce Harper didn’t go,” Graves said of Philadelphia.
• Dennis Rodman had some not-so-nice things to say about Joel Embiid, after the Sixers’ star said last week that Wilt Chamberlain — and not Michael Jordan — was the greatest basketball player of all time.
“To me, you got Wilt Chamberlain. He’s got all the records, and no one is ever gonna beat them. I don’t see anyone ever getting 100 points in a game,” Embiid said on The Ringer’s NBA Desktop social media show. "That’s it, he’s the G.O.A.T.”